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A Wolf, a Viking, and a French macaron walk into a bar...
I'm frustrated! The restaurant kitchen has two gas convection ovens, a Wolf with a 6-burner top and a Viking with a French flat top top. The Wolf has long been the pastry oven and I've baked approximately a zillion things in it, including a few thousand French macarons. Unfortunately the Wolf has been out of commission and I'm left with the Viking. The cream puffs, brownies, and shortbread have been baking fine, but I've had two batches of French macaron with really poor foot development and some cracking on top. I made a batch today and gave at least a third of the shells to staff because of poor rise. I don't think I rushed the drying, they seemed appropriately skinned-over before baking. It's a nice sunny day and I've made plenty of macarons in the rain so I don't think it's the weather. The Viking seems like a moister heat when I open the oven, is it possible that one make of oven would create a more humid heat, or have I simply lost my macaron mojo? Help!
What went wrong with these cookies?
By Nancy in Pátzcuaro
Last night I made "Fudgy Chocolate-Walnut Cookies (flourless)" for a Seder dinner tonight. What emerged from the oven weren't cookies at all, but rather a crisp puddle with vaguely cookie-shaped broken pieces floating on it. Tastes wonderful, but looks pretty bad. No photos--too ugly.
The recipe includes 9 oz. toasted walnuts chopped very fine in the food processor, 3 cups confectioner's sugar, 1/2 cup + 3 Tbs. Dutch process cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 Tbs. vanilla, and 4 egg whites (unwhipped) . The instructions say to preheat the oven to 350 and bake for 20 minutes.
My first thought is that the oven temperature is too high for anything with egg whites in it. Any other ideas? I will try this again at a lower temperature, but there's no time to do it today (plus I'm out of both walnuts and confectioner's sugar). I'll bring them tonight, but it's a little embarrassing to have to break this big dark brown cookie/cracker into uneven pieces to serve it.
Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Thanks--
Nancy in Pátzcuaro
Alcohol Infused Cough Drops
I saw a recipe on facebook today for making your own cough drops. It was a basic hard candy recipe of sugar (and water) with a little honey, lemon, ground ginger & clove - cooked to hard crack, made into droplets on a silpat or parchment and left to cool/harden, then tossed in powdered sugar. I'd like to doctor it up a bit and could use a little help. Would it be possible to add a little whiskey into the mix? Also, if I wanted to steep fresh ginger / clove / etc, what would be the best way to do so? I was thinking using the water - even though it will all boil off I could steep the flavorings in that before adding it to the sugar. Finally, what would be the best way to store them so they don't start to soften?
Flavoring in Ganache
I'm making truffles for a wholesale customer who will be distributing them to their guests on a daily basis. I've been working on my recipes for quite a while, and have some good recipes for a number of flavors. Since the customer base is pretty varied, I'm not adding any alcohol to the ganache centers. The customer is pleased, but has asked me to expand my flavors to a few that they suggested.
I've been working on a mint center with a white chocolate ganache and am infusing the cream with fresh mint leaves. No matter how much mint I add, the mint taste is not pronounced enough. I've also infused the mint leaves in the cream for up to 6 hours before adding the cream to the chocolate, without pleasing results.
I've also been playing around with a fresh ginger ganache and am interested in lemongrass and other natural flavorings. Since I don't know if the customer will be pleased with the end result, I'd rather not buy the flavored compounds (I've used the mint flavor compound in a previous job) to enhance the flavor until I get a better result using the fresh ingredients.
Do you have some advice for using natural herbs and spices to flavor ganache without using extracts, alcohol, or compounds?
Rich pastry cream filling: I mean REALLY, REALLY rich
I well remember the first time I made DH a Boston Cream Pie. And I thought he would be so happy. I think I followed a Martha Stewart recipe.
But no. He is the son of a French-Canadian cooking, baking, Mother and if you know anything about French-Canadian cooking, Sugar Pie is a regular feature. And pure pork Tortiere. DH grew up on Millefeuille and Napoleons and Rhubarb Pie which had so much sugar in it that you couldn't taste the rhubarb. (Sorry, dear departed M-i-L.) And so my cream filling simply wasn't rich enough. Make it richer, he said, Like my Mother did.
And so I am asking. Take your regular Creme Patisserie and add what to it to make it 'richer'? Butter? Several tablespoons? I've Googled 'very rich pastry cream filling' and can't get back the usual egg, cream...and maybe a smidgen of butter...recipes.
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